Technically, Finca Exotica was closed when my 12-year-old son and I visited as volunteers for the sea turtle program. We were wet, dirty and well hiked by the time we arrived, and we thought we'd found paradise: a remote, off-the-grid, unspoiled destination where you could practice yoga and sleep in open air casita. No one spends time with a phone in hand, but stays busy participating in nature.
Finca Exotica is a couple of bumpy hours by colectivo from the nearest town, but it feels like a different world. We were greeted by Phoebe, who runs the turtle program, and she instantly began a tour of the garden's fascinating edible fruits and medicinal plants. Each meal was an event. It wasn't unusual to be entertained by a family of Capuchin monkeys during breakfast, and Scarlet Macaws populated the otherwise isolated beach. Nighttime stargazing was so spectacular, we almost missed our main event: a massive 350 lb Pacific Green turtle nesting.
I'll remember Finca Exotica as the place where I was showered in black sand from the flipper of this awe-inspiring, endangered turtle. Architect/founder Markus Wehrmeister has done an impressive job of demonstrating how we can aspire to live in harmony with nature, taking no more than what we need. But as my son and I were preparing to leave, we learned that up to 1,000 turtle eggs had been poached the night before. In a country where eco-tourism is so important, I'd encourage future guests to learn about programs like Finca Exotica's turtle volunteerism/education so that amazing experiences like the one we had will remain viable.